November 19, 2020 – After a turbulent year, many of us are suffering
from pandemic fatigue and are eager to gather with friends and family.
The holidays often bring a comforting feeling of togetherness that the
majority of 2020 has lacked. But with nearly every state in the nation
now in the red zone for new coronavirus cases, the timing couldn’t
be worse. Keeping your loved ones safe this holiday most likely calls
for a scaled-back Thanksgiving. Consider replacing open arms with open
windows, inviting fewer people and scooping up a large serving of precaution.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing across the nation,
and we’re also seeing an increase of positive cases right here in
the Golden Isles,” says
Steven F. Mosher, M.D., a board-certified internal medicine physician specializing in infectious
disease and member of the Southeast Georgia Health System medical staff.
“We know that COVID-19 is mostly spread through the air and that
people are more susceptible when spending prolonged periods of time together.
Now is not the time to let your guard down. This holiday season, we ask
you to consider how your plans can be modified to reduce the spread of
COVID-19 to keep your friends, families and our communities healthy and
According to CDC guidelines, staying home is the safest option. Any type
of travel increases the risk of catching and spreading the virus. If hosting,
remember to limit gatherings to groups of 10 or fewer, or better yet,
to household members only. Regardless of the location or size of the gathering,
follow mask and social distancing guidelines.
Microscopic viral particles from an infected guest or family member can
build up quickly around the table as that person breathes, talks or laughs.
These particles linger in the air, putting everyone at risk. Research
shows that ventilation can increase the air exchange rate, thus decreasing
the spread of COVID-19.
“We’re very fortunate to live in southeast Georgia and enjoy
mild temperatures during this time of year,” says Mosher. “Consider
eating outdoors, or keep fresh air circulating by opening a few windows
and doors. And as hard as it may be, avoid hugging and handshakes this
year. Give a little elbow bump instead.”
Mosher also emphasizes the importance of frequent hand washing. “The
virus is highly transmissible, so you should try to avoid sharing and
passing serving dishes and utensils. Be mindful of what you touch and
use hand sanitizer after making contact with items handled by others.”
Planning and communicating is essential for families and friends who will
gather together this holiday season. Establish ground rules and make sure
everyone is being transparent. If anyone is feeling ill or experiencing
COVID-19 symptoms, or has had close contact with a person who has recently
tested positive, they should stay away from others.
“College students who have not been self-isolating in the two weeks
before the holiday should wear a mask while indoors and around others,”
explains Mosher. “And everyone should be extra cautious when around
the elderly or those with compromised health conditions. Most importantly,
if you are sick or experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how minor,
isolate yourself. Don’t risk the health of others.”
“There are a lot of ways to celebrate the holidays safely this year,
such as Zoom dinners and FaceTime calls,” says Mosher. “Although
we might not like them as much as previous holiday traditions, keeping
your family and friends healthy is most important.”
If you experience COVID-19 symptoms, such as a fever, cough or shortness
of breath, call the Southeast Georgia Health System COVID-19 Screening
Hotline at 912-466-7222, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. For COVID-19 updates, visit